A Few Words About Tamarindo

As you know, our primary experience with Costa Rica was in Tamarindo, a small beach town on the Nicoya peninsula. While there, I kept some notes on the town with the express purpose of eventually posting them here. A bit edited but here's the gist of them...

High Tide at Sunset at Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo offers a great beach location with the secluded and expansive Playa Grande just a brief minute boat ride away... water taxis cost 500 colones or roughly a dollar. Don't believe that it only takes 15 minutes to walk to Las Tortugas once you cross the estuary - that was the estimate I was given at Iguana Surf Shop. It took us about 45 minutes. The water taxi drivers will also offer to take you on an estuary tour for about 2 hours for about $20/head. You can just show up and go whenever you want as there are plenty of water taxis running.

During low tide, the beach in Tamarindo is wide enough for plenty of people to hang out. However, as you can see from the picture above, once high tide hits... the beach tends to disappear as the difference between high tide and low tide is, going from memory, about 8 feet. Pretty drastic. Just take a look at the lava reefs in front of the Diria below and you get the picture.

...and This is Low Tide

The town has an excellent mix of restaurants in all price ranges. Many of them are a welcome retreat for the shady scene on "the circle", particularly at night. The closer you get to the circle, the more likely you are to see prostitutes or be offered drugs. We were asked three times on a Tuesday night if we wanted pot and one time on a Wednesday night for a harder option.

"Hello my friend... how are you... want to buy some weed?"
- Drug dealer puttering by on his dinky motorcycle

Honestly, you can walk around without being hassled - small crowds of locals sometimes are unnerving but no one really messed with us. At the same time, sometimes you feel like you're being watched. Some roads are pretty dark - like the road from the main part of town that then leads to the Kahiki. No streetlights, really.

Souvenir shops are more than plentiful, some of which have unique items worth buying while the rest are filled with your typical tourist fare. A couple of galliers (one next to Kahiki and the other next to Nibbana) offered nicer items. The shops at El Diria are more boutique-like although prices are definitely higher. Several surf shops are also in town - High Tide, Iguana and the like - so you won't have any problem locating board rentals, ding repair or a surf school. A handful of small supermarkets (more like convenience stores stuffed to the gills) are located throughout town. Since construction is taking place all over town, new shops, markets and restaurants are sure to pop. Many of the owners are expats - Americans, French, Swiss, Argentines and Italians.

Browsing Some Great Hardwood Items

The town is small enough to walk pretty much everywhere and, given enough time, you can take a comfortable walk to Playa Langosta. Many people opt to rent cars to visit nearby beaches or head to/from the airport. I have no idea where people park, though. If you do walk, expect to get plenty of dust all over you as each passing vehicle leaves a cloud in its wake. I'd say maybe 10% of the roads in town are paved -the rest are rocky. They must me a muddy mess during the rainy season. Ladies would do well to leave their heels at the hotel.

It's Tico Time at the Diria

When it comes to currency, you can probably do just fine without colones as everyone accepts dollars. In fact, if you're a gringo, they'll assume you're paying with dollars. You'll see USD prices all over the place. ATMs are located throughout town with two right by El Diria and one just west of High Tide Surf Shop. Keep in mind that prices are inflated in Tamarindo.

Next time... more information on various tours from Tamarindo.

1 comment:

Brad Anderson said...

Tamarindo is great however I love Samara Beach. I would say that if you likes Tamarindo you would love Samara Beach.